Tag Archives: sex and romance novels

What Romance Writers Teach Me About Sex

I live a weird life. Ask me about my profession, and I’ll answer that I’m a writer. But what I write gets a little more complicated — because I write about Christian sex in marriage and teen fiction.

A few years ago, I joined the Romance Writers of America (RWA) — the largest writing organization in the United States — because of its excellent educational programs and community support for fiction writers. I don’t label myself a romance writer, but there is some romance in my teen books. Anyway, I spend a great deal more time with romance writers than I ever expected. It’s been interesting and enlightening.

Some romance writers share my values, many don’t. Yet romance writers have taught me a few things about how sex is viewed by women. Remember that the romance genre is a billion-dollar industry and responsible for 13% of all adult book sales. Like it or not, these authors are turning out something that appeals to women readers.

What Romance Writers Teach Me About Sex

Women are sexual beings. I knew this at my core, but my growing-up church culture made it sound like guys were the sexual ones and we women were an afterthought when it came to sexual pleasure. I also hear from many wives who struggle with a lack of sexual desire so it can become easy to dismiss how God intended us to be sexual beings.

Let me assure you most women want sexual pleasure, even it comes through the pages of a romance novel. What appeals to these women, however, is not the sexual intercourse itself so much as the awakening of their senses and the drawn-out excitement of sexual touch and arousal. I do believe God made women as sexually inclined as men — simply in a different way.

Romance and foreplay matter. In many romance novels, sex doesn’t happen until late in the book. Instead, the story focuses on the undeniable attraction between hero and heroine, the wooing and courtship, the kissing and foreplay.

Some have suggested husbands should read a few romance novels to get a sense of what their wives want. I’ll save you guys the time and summarize: Just because you caught your wife doesn't mean you stop pursuing her. Click To Tweet This may seem like a paradox, but romance and foreplay matter to your wife. That’s the stuff that makes her feel cherished and desired and aroused and, quite honestly, ready. So pay attention to it, and maybe even check out the sex advice I constantly give husbands.

Almost-kissing is almost as hot as kissing. You don’t even have to open the books to get this one. Just scan a bookstore shelf of romance novels and count how many book covers have couples kissing versus couples almost kissing. I guarantee you the almost-kissing covers will win the wager.

This principle can be applied to marriage in how you interact throughout the day. You can heighten sexual desire through suggestive talk, flirtation, light touches, lingering close in one another’s arms, teasing kisses, running your hands along the hems of the other’s clothing, taking your time to undress slowly and deliberately.

Sex isn’t simply about sex; rather, God created sex to be an entire experience for our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls in marriage. I’m in favor of the quickie at times, but don’t rush it all the time — savor the experience.

Orgasms are awesome. Actually, romance writers didn’t teach me this. I had my own well of wisdom to draw from on that one. But it is fascinating how sexual climax is always, always, always included in romance novel sex.

Don’t ignore this important aspect of sexual intimacy. Most husbands climax pretty readily, but wives can be a little less certain in the climax department. Merely because it’s a little more challenging doesn’t mean a gal doesn’t want to go for it. Because yeah, orgasms rock! (Thank you, generous God, for that.)

Put a little effort into figuring out how the sexual experience can lead to a satisfying pop of pleasure for the wife. If you’re struggling in that area, check out Orgasm: If Only I Could O or But I Still Can’t Orgasm! What Next?. For most wives orgasm doesn’t need to happen every time, but it’s a wonderful experience when it does.

One last thought: I believe quite a few romance writers who pen amazing love and sex scenes for their novels are not having great sex in their real lives. Which tells me that we long for the full experience that God intended — the experience that’s far better and more satisfying in a God-blessed marriage than in any romance novel.

I know for myself that, even as a writer, I simply cannot put into words the beauty and meaning involved in sexual intimacy with my husband. I pray each reader here will experience that in their own marriage.

Winner: We had over 100 entries from last Saturday’s announced giveaway, so I was feeling extra generous and picked two names! The randomly chosen winners are Samantha and Jason. I’ll be sending them an ebook of their choice.

Giveaway: This week’s giveaway is my own romantic fiction ebook, Behind Closed Doors: Five Marriage Stories. Don’t worry: No steamy, blush-worthy scenes, even though the topic is marriage and sexuality. However, these five short stories are intended to address real life while reflecting God’s design for sexual intimacy.

To enter, simply share any of my blog posts on Twitter and include my Twitter username, @HotHolyHumorous. I’ll automatically add you to the drawing, which closes next Thursday, August 13, 10:00 p.m.

For some different thoughts on this topic, check out Common Myths of Romance Novels.

3 Things You CAN Learn from Love Scenes

There’s a danger in turning to movies and novels as examples of how romance and sex work in the marital bedroom. I’ve written about the myths of romance novels and the problems of films in how they depict this intimate act.

However, I’m a fiction reader mostly. While there are plenty of great nonfiction titles I’ve read and want to read, I tend to gravitate toward a great story.* Recently, I was reading an historical novel in which a love — okay, okay, sex — scene appeared. (Let me be clear this is was not erotica, but sex does appear in many mainstream titles and this was one scene in a long book.) And I started wondering why women eat this stuff up. Why do romance novels appeal to us gals so much? Are there common threads in these love and sex scenes that reveal something deeper about our desires?

Man and Woman Kissing on BeachSo while I’m not encouraging you to pick up steamy romance novels, and certainly never erotica, I want to talk about what you can learn from love scenes — about what we women tend to value when it comes to sexual intimacy.

The couple shares amazing kisses. The emphasis on kissing in many romance novels is unmistakable. A curl-your-toes kiss can take up paragraphs or even pages of description, as something both the character and the reader savor.

All too often, when it comes to our marriages, we push kissing aside. We might trade pecks or soft kisses, but do we engage in passionate make-out sessions like we used to? Perhaps your husband views kissing as a pit stop on the way the real destination of sex. Which can leave a gal longing for that sweet sensation of a sexy, sexy kiss. The sort romance writers describe so well.

Oddly enough, after many years of marriage, we should actually be better at this than any fictional characters who stumble into that first kiss. We should have it down pat. But maybe it’s neglected in your marriage. And maybe that’s one reason why women crave reading about intense kisses — because we want to experience that again. And yes, with our husband.

He’s in charge. Whoa, whoa! Before I flub this all up, let me explain what I mean by “in charge.” The hero of a romance novel is typically in charge of the situation and of himself. He comes across as confident and capable. He knows how to pleasure a woman (although this is one of those rather silly expectations in fiction, since the character doesn’t know this woman and we’re not all cookie-cutter, thank you very much). He is in control of his passions, releasing them freely when she is receptive and waiting patiently when she needs more time. He gauges how his actions come across and adapts readily to what she desires. He takes the lead yet makes her feel safe and valued.

Romance heroes are masculine. Whatever you want to do with that word, I can tell you I have writer friends who have been flat out instructed by editors to make their hero taller, to lose the “nerdy glasses,” to change his occupation to a more manly pursuit, etc. before the novel is published. Because, by and large, female readers want a confident, masculine love interest.

And maybe that’s what you want from your husband too — for him to be confident and capable in lovemaking. For him to be a leader when it comes to sexual intimacy, though certainly not aggressive or demanding. Indeed, the husband who is constantly begging and pressing may appear even less in charge, of his emotions and desires and relationship. But do we encourage our husbands to live up to this masculine standard? Do we build him up into the man God wants him to be? Do we encourage his leadership, confidence, and capability? Do we help stay in control of his passions and direct them appropriately in the marriage bed?

She climaxes. It’s sort of a joke how easily women climax in novels and movies. Even first-time-out virgins readily hit the peak of passion — oh, and in perfect synchronicity with their sexual partner. It’s rather ridiculous, since most women have a learning curve when it comes to climax. It’s not quite the given that it is for men. So while you can safely ignore how easy fiction makes it look, one interesting takeaway remains.

Her climax is seen as important. Almost every romance novel and chick flick approaches the sex scene from her perspective. And you know what? In this scenario, her pleasure matters. Wives want to feel that height of passion, to reach the pinnacle of lovemaking, to feel their bodies melt into that moment and find complete satisfaction in the marriage bed. Indeed, many wives who don’t want to have sex have never felt that excitement, so they don’t get what the big deal is. Even stranger, some of these women read romance novels and have never made the connection: Sex is also for you, sweetie!

Now of course, your husband isn’t merely there to send you up to the rafters in an orgasm that leaves you floating for hours. This is a mutual, one-flesh thing in marriage. However, there’s something to be said for making sure you enjoy it — that you make your pleasure a priority as well. You may not care about climaxing every time, but learning what arouses and excites you can go a long way toward helping you feel more engaged and eager about lovemaking with your husband. God wants you to enjoy this gift He gave — thus, the clitoris and the orgasm.

So here are three takeaways from romance novels: kissing, his capability, and your pleasure. But of course, the best news is that with commitment, communication, and sure, practice, our Christian covenant marriages should enjoy far better than any make-believe romance. We can have the full range of intimacy with our husbands. What are we doing to encourage exactly that?

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— For your love is better than wine.” Song of Songs 1:2

*By the way, best love story ever? Jesus.